The Location of Utopia
Although Utopia literally means no-place, in some utopias the location definitely has some cultural significance. If utopia is in the sun or under the earth, it is probably not the case. Thomas More put his Utopia in the South Atlantic, but the imaginary geography of the island does not seem to have any importance for social construction. More’s Utopia does not seem to have anything South American. However, the geographical and temporal orientation of Chinese and European utopias seem to be different in many aspects, which carry a politico-cultural significance. The special issue of World Literature Studies will explore two questions about the location of utopias:
1.How does the cultural environment of the production of utopias influence the content of political reasoning? Are there special traits of the locality inscribed in the imagined perfect society?
2.If utopias are imagined to be elsewhere, how does the image of local/cultural otherness of that elsewhere influence them? We are especially interested in the imagological approach to utopias, but also in the colonial discourse inscribed in some utopias (e.g. Chinese utopias, European utopias).
The traditional divide of utopias and euchronias seem to be governed by a difference in time; the term utopia describes a better society in the present but elsewhere (nowhere or in a better place, cf. “eutopia”), while euchronia tells about a better future. From our suggested topographical viewpoint, the difference seems to be that of the place. A euchronia may be a homotopical utopia, which imagines a better society in the same place, while heterotopical utopia (not in the Foucauldian usage but as a Genette-style coinage) puts it in another location. Both are interesting for the location of the utopia, providing the selected location has an impact on the political reasoning.
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